The tale of 2013 season for the No. 8 Missouri Tigers begins its final chapter as the team descended on North Texas today for the 78th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic.
Mizzou’s official travel party, including approximately 50 players, coaches, support staff, athletic administrators and their families, arrived mid-afternoon at the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas after flying from Columbia on a charter flight. The remaining 70-plus players met the team at the hotel, arriving individually via private vehicles.
“We’re really excited to be here,” said head coach Gary Pinkel. “We know from first-hand experience just how special the Cotton Bowl is and everything they do to make it a memorable experience for the players and our entire program. We had a great trip in today and we’ll enjoy some R&R tonight and then get back to the grind in the morning with our first practice.”
Mizzou (11-2, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) is scheduled for four practices at AT&T Stadium in Arlington in preparation for its matchup with the No. 13 Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-2, 7-2 Big 12 Conference). The former Big 8/Big 12 foes are set to collide on the gridiron for the 53rd time but for the first time in the postseason and for the first time with the Tigers donning slightly different stripes as a member of the SEC.
“We’ve had a few days off with the holiday, so it will be important to get things cranked up real quick, because before you know it we’ll be at game day,” said Pinkel. “We have a lot of respect for Coach (Mike) Gundy and the program he’s built at Oklahoma State. They are just a couple plays away from having won the Big 12 this year. We know just how strong that conference is, so we’ll have to have some great preparation this week to get ready to play.”
The team’s first practice will be open for the first hour to media representatives covering the 78th Classic. Pinkel and senior captains QB James Franklin, WR L’Damian Washington, CB E.J. Gaines and LB Andrew Wilson will be available for interviews immediately following practice. The Tigers will take the day off on Sunday and then will resume with three-straight workouts before enjoying a day of rest the day before making its third AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic appearance.
Off the field, the team will get its first official dose of Classic hospitality on Saturday evening with a welcome dinner and party, courtesy of the Dallas Cowboys, at AT&T Stadium.
The 78th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic is Friday, Jan. 3 on FOX. Airtime is set for 6:30 p.m. CST with kickoff scheduled for 7:10 p.m. Making their fourth appearances as members of FOX’s broadcast crew, Gus Johnson and Charles Davis will describe all the action and will be joined by Kristina Pink reporting from the sideline. FOX is broadcasting the Classic for the 16th consecutive year.